Tag Archives: downtown Raleigh

What a woman obsessed with scuba diving looks for in a man. Or rather, what you don’t want.

by Angela Perez

Ah, what ARE women like me (who are obsessed with scuba diving) looking for in a man other than him possessing a working penis, all of his teeth, a job, and a strong stroke?
Well, I’ll tell you.

This conversation happened between me and a co-worker at some half-assed Mexican restaurant (you know the kind, where they feature $5.99 specials called Speedy Gonzalez 1, 2, 3 and so on.  And each dish tastes exactly the same but satisfies a craving so you go and eat half a pound of two day-old chips and shell out 8 bucks total plus tip for the waiter who is wearing too much Drakkar Noir and wonder why you put yourself through this mediocrity every 3 or 4 weeks.)

My co-worker, who is in her mid-30s and has been married for 10 years and has 2 children, asked me this, “So Angela, do you think you’ll find the one any time soon?”

“Find the one what?”  I asked, reaching for one of the stale chips.

“You know,” she said, “the man you’ll marry.”

“You know that I believe marriage is for the weak,” I said.  “You and your husband excluded.”  (I just said that to pacify her. I actually count her in that bunch.)

“Oh, Angela, there’s a wonderful man out there who will make you want to run down the aisle.”

“Maybe,” I replied.   I tried the guacamole.  “Good Lord,” I exclaimed, “I think they put shredded jicama in this.  It’s incredible!”  I dipped my spoon in for another try.   They had indeed put jicama in guacamole.   A revelation.

“You’re avoiding the topic,” she said.  “So, how about this.  Tell me who your ideal man is.”

“I honestly don’t know,” I said.  The waiter came back to ask us how everything was even though we hadn’t gotten our food yet.  The acrid smell of his cologne was actually clinging to the back of my throat, ruining the joy of jicama.  Suddenly I recalled that the first time I ever had sex was with a boy wearing Drakkar and we were listening to a Metallica cassette on his boom box.

“Okay,” she said, not giving up, “let’s do this.  Tell me what you absolutely don’t want in a man.”

“Hmmm…okay, that I can come up with,” I said, dipping a chip in the salsa.

“Yayyy!” she squealed, daintily clapping her hands.  “Finally.  So name five things quick – without even thinking about it.  Aaaaand…GO!”

“So.  One. I could never date a man who suggested that for a first date we eat at Olive Garden.  Or any chain restaurant. I could never date a man who regularly wears golf shirts and khaki pants with pleats in them.  Men should never wear pants with pleats in them.  Flat front only. Wait – do those two items of clothing count as two reasons?  He’s got to love to get in the ocean – swim, snorkel, dive, I don’t care.  But he has to want the water as much as I do.  Hmmm…also,  I could never date a man who wears Y-front white underwear.  Gotta wear boxer shorts or even just let your balls and dick swing in the wind.   Oh, and I like nice, solid forearms.  My favorite part of a man’s body.  Oh and one more, I could never date a man who thinks getting a group together to get on one of those Trolley Pubs in downtown Raleigh would be a fun thing to do.”

[Trolley Pubs are found in larger cities across the U.S.  They are these rolling pubs (like a giant bicycle) where up to 14 people get on and sit around a bar-in-the-round and each person pedals as they troll through the streets of downtown, drinking beer and going from pub to pub.  Their revelry combined with the flashing light decorations make it the most annoying sight and sound imaginable.]

“Oh my God,” she said, frowning.  She let out a sigh.   “I was thinking more along the lines of you naming certain qualities like if he was a Republican or is obsessed with sports.  Which I know neither of those is okay with you.”

“Those are two good ones to add to the list actually,” I said.   Wow, I didn’t know she knew me that well.

She shook her head.  “You are going to die alone.  You can’t be so specific.  One guy isn’t going to have everything.”

“I know that,” I said.  “Okay, I can maybe let go of most of those except for the ocean part.  It’s fundamental to what I think about, how I look at the world.  I cannot get around someone not wanting to be in or near the ocean.”

“What if he doesn’t like the ocean but had a lot of money and treated you like a queen?”

“I’d rather die than concede,” I said.  “Power never concedes without a demand.

“What does that even mean?” she asked.

“I don’t actually know.”  I looked around, weary of the conversation and of, particularly, myself.  “Where the hell is my Speedy Gonzalez number 12?”

“Do you really even truly know what you want?”

“Yes,” I answered carefully, “I want a man muscled in flame and who sweats kindness and intellect and who is funny and who will burn me to the ground causing me the exact opposite of harm.”

She rolled her eyes at me and nodded towards the approaching waiter.  “Okay.  Whatever.  Our food is here.”

“Good,”  I said.  “Great.”   And I threw down on that Speedy Gonzales like the good little single Mexican gal I am.



A Tinder conversation: lesbians and spider webs

Dude:  hey sexy, my lesbian girl friend and me will go out tonight.  care to join?

Angela:  Why are you telling me that she’s a lesbian?

Dude:  just ’cause 😉 😉  she’s hot though 😉

Angela:  Are you telling me to let me know that you aren’t homophobic?  Because that’s awesome if you’re an open-minded person.

Dude:  hell yeah LESBIANS

Angela:  Your lack of capitalization except when it comes to LESBIANS is quite troubling.

Dude: you wanna come 😉

Angela:  And gay men?  How do you feel about them?

Dude:  naw son not down with that some wrong shit

Angela:  Do you mean being a homosexual is wrong?

Dude:  not if you got big titties 😉

Angela:  What else have you got to entice me to go on this extraordinary date?

Dude:  I am all tatted up and am hung big dick baby.

Angela:  I noticed the tattoos on your arms in some of your photos.  What other tattoos do you have?

Dude:  just got two spider webs

Angela:  On your elbows?

Dude:  nah around BOTH NIPPLES ha ha ha

Angela:  So basically you now look like you’re wearing a spider web mesh BRA all of the time?

Dude:  you down or not

Angela:  Let me mull this over.  [UNMATCH WITH MUCH HASTE]


Oh, what a tangled web we weave whilst single.

More online dating: too fast for love

Dude:  Hey girl, I wanna a piece of you.
Angela:  Are you paraphrasing from “I want a piece of your action?” I like that one Motley Crue record. I appreciate both the reference and the innuendo.
Dude:  What?!?
Angela:  Too Fast for Love.
Dude:  Whatever, bitch.


Culinary Nostalgia and Local, Artisanal Food Ways: what the Indy Week interview with a BBQ scholar can tell us about ourselves

by Angela Perez

John Shelton Reed, 74, is a highly respected author and scholar of Southern history, sociology and food ways.  He taught for over 30 years at UNC-Chapel Hill and helped found the school’s esteemed Center for the Study of the American South.  Reed, who lives in Chatham County, is also a leading BBQ scholar (I’m going back and getting my PhD in THAT) and recently released his newest book, the cookbook “Barbecue.
A week or so ago, Reed discussed BBQ in North Carolina in an interview in the Triangle’s Indy Week that brings up insightful points about  “orthodoxy” and “authenticity” in preparing and discussing Southern cooking.  That dogmatism Reed is referring to is born out of  a rampant culinary nostalgia that’s inspiring everything from eager foodies buying Lodge cast iron skillets (local Southern celebrity chef Ashley Christensen promotes Lodge often – I’ll admit I’ve wondered if she has or is angling for an endorsement deal with them or if she just genuinely loves the cookware.  Lodge is, in fact, some great cast iron cookware made in Tennessee since 1896.  Whatever the case, I’m glad she is using her popularity to promote it.), pop-up homemade pie stands being erected on organic farms (one pie stand I visited in Durham recently had sold out within a couple hours of opening and you couldn’t even park near the stand for all of the Lexus SUVs and Subaru Outbacks that had swarmed onto the farm), and slick, earnest documentaries featuring highly-tattooed guys waxing poetic on the art of pickling.
BBQ in North Carolina, like so many other fiercely loved regional delights, demands authenticity amongst both sporting foodies who didn’t grow up with the food and those die-hard, that’s-how-my-grandmother-made-it Southerners who did indeed grow up with it and want to preach its gospel.  (We Southerners love to tell people we grew up eating this and that and the other straight from the river or the garden. I’m highly guilty of always referring to my grandmother’s collard greens and my grandpa’s crow stew or cornmeal-breaded fried flounder. I wonder when crow stew will trend…)   Reed tells Indy interviewer Lee Quinn:

The newer generation of barbecue cooks and pitmasters are self-conscious in a way the old barbecue guys weren’t. There is a dogmatism or even fundamentalism in their devotion to cooking over wood coals, pulling the pork, etcetera. There’s a return to orthodoxy that indicates a real respect for these traditions and the regions they represent.
So much media and press attention goes to chefs, restaurants and artisans connecting with the “old ways.”  It is now in the hands of the food industry to preach the gospel of localism through food.  The question becomes, what’s driving such staid, serious dogmatism in food production and why?  From whence springs the all-consuming desire to delve into the murky origins of forgotten food ways?  Why is the public trying to connect with where their food comes from like folks could in the “old days” (though, that connection “back then” was born out of necessity, not luxury – these days, it takes some serious bucks to “reconnect”)?  And why is the public so in love with those chef and artisan food adventures down the romantic, back-to-our-roots rabbit hole?
There seems to be some deep, biological need driving consumers into the arms of Southern chefs and artisan food producers as we salivate and weep for joy and exclaim:  “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us the real thing!” And we admire, often to the point of sycophantism and slavishness, those people who do the research and the hard work and take all of the business risks to present us with the “real thing.”  These chefs, biscuit makers, pork pullers, bakers, butchers, etc.  wield the power to dole out one of the most compelling forces in the universe:  nostalgia.  Let’s take a look at how nostalgia and food connect.
On the negative side, what’s happening is that there is a lot of back-slapping and circle jerking going on in the Triangle just because something is made local and demonstrates a home-grown ethos.  I mean, we all hate what mass-production and globalization have done to society, right?  These folks focusing on “local” and “sustainable” agricultural are thumbing their noses at such gluttonous economy.  My God, family farming can sustain an expensive restaurant so who cares that it might not affordably sustain an entire population?  “That’s not my problem,” I mutter as I shovel organic, locally-grown kale into my pie hole.
The fact remains, however, some of those local restaurants and artisans ain’t producing food that’s even all that GOOD.  Or they are producing food that is good enough for Raleigh or the Triangle but would never cut it nationally.   I hear a lot of my friends in the food industry call certain restaurants and products, “Raleigh-good” and they don’t mean it in a circle jerking kind of way.  Yet, for now at least, the public seems to be willing to fling their money at anything that feels authentic.
Nostalgia is a powerful urge and a powerful business.  Luckily for us, this homespun brand of a consumerism is bound up in basic human need (to eat) benefits us all – the seller hopefully, makes a living and the consumer ends up with incredible food not mass-produced and made with inferior products that aren’t good for us.
In other words, some of that culinary nostalgia may be driven by our current fears of faceless greedy corporations threatening our health and our planet all in the name of making a profit.  Foodies spending their money on “local” and “authentic” food crave and idealize the notion there is love and care, just like when they were children, in the preparation and presentation of the food they are about to put into their bodies.  (Though, ironically, for Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, our grandparents and parents were happily serving us new-fangled highly processed foods like Cool Whip and canned peas – pre-packaged food that made their lives so much easier and simpler.)
We love the idea of a business that doesn’t appear to be wholly born out of the desire to make a profit at any cost (even though, let’s be real, these folks do still need to send their kids to college and pay bills and feed the dog).  Surely, these committed craftspeople are driven first and foremost by passion and curiosity and eschew the destructive evils of capitalism.  I mean, my God, they mortgaged their homes and spent their retirement savings so I could have an heirloom tomato sandwich with homemade pickles on rye bread sourced from the bakery down the street.  They spent their kids’ college fund so I can go in an expensive restaurant and sit on a bench that’s made from wood from an old tobacco barn in South Raleigh that was originally built by slaves.  I mean, my God, how can you NOT feel good about spending your money on that?  (Oh my God, I just realized Sean Brock is the Wendell Berry of restaurant owners.   More on that in another, related blog.)
It FEELS good to give these guild masters our money, like we are doing the right thing for our bodies, our taste buds, our local communities and for humanity in general. I know I for one would much rather buy a $6 loaf of bread from a local baker who claims to be using a technique specific to Roman bakers in 600 BC than a $1.99 loaf from the Kroger bread aisle.  I just better when I put my hard-earned money into the hands of a real, live small business owner who cares about the who, what, when, where and why of their food production (beyond profit) and usually, hopefully, the food tastes great to boot.   And if these chefs and artisans don’t dig into the old food ways, we’re threatened with losing our stories, our history and our origins as it all gets wiped out by giant faceless food conglomerates who have no interest in preserving anything beyond profit margins.
Another driving force behind culinary nostalgia is a deep-rooted need to be part of a tribe, to feel safe in the bosom of a connected community.  By asserting and participating in specific, regional food ways like BBQ, you assert a cultural identity and ensure the continuation of your “people” and your way of life.  Or as Reed puts it in the Indy article:
The tie to geography, particularly in North Carolina, overlays rivalries between the east and the Piedmont. Differing economies, settlement patterns, plantation systems (or the lack thereof), and differences in the European and African migrations to areas of the state all play a role in these identities. In some ways, arguing about what makes barbecue stands in as a proxy for fighting about other things. The Texas-North Carolina smoked meat rivalry indicates this on a regional level. The reason for the relatively recent bubbling up of these arguments might be due to the increasing homogenization of other aspects of American cultural life. Barbecue—at least good barbecue that pays homage to local traditions—can still stand for a place.
In Northeastern North Carolina, when we insist that pulled pork doused in a vinegar-based sauce is the only “right” way to eat BBQ, we are defining ourselves as a distinct community, one that is united by food dogma.    In standing together in the name of vinegar, we are assured we will survive even as those Piedmont hooligans hurl tomato-based BBQ sauce (though, to be accurate, there is still vinegar in the bbq sauces that have tomato in them) at us and threaten to blow up our forts and smash down our walls and run away with our women and children…dissolving the tribe and killing off a simpler, sweeter way of life, even if that way of life doesn’t actually even exist anymore.
And while I strongly encourage you to keep a critical eye on the food and drink that is being presented to us (remember, just because the food or drink was made here or someone won a national award or the News & Observer constantly praises it doesn’t automatically mean it’s all that great), I at the same time believe that biology, history and our taste buds demand that we take these deep dives into all those old Southern food ways.  Let’s all eat, drink and be merry as we continue to analyze and dissect what “local” and “authentic” means.
But don’t get too damn merry.
Don’t forget, we still need to talk about race and class in culinary history and local food ways and take a look at who gets access to all of these fancy breads and heirloom this and heritage that and free-range fried chicken.  I mean, everyone deserves good food, don’t they?  Let’s keep that in mind as we slap each other on the back for getting a write-up in some national magazine – ask WHO is getting to reconnect with where their food comes from.  Will it just be middle-class, educated white folks who like to run marathons and sport cool glasses and interesting tattoos who can afford or are willing to pay $11.00 for a pound of house-ground, heritage-hog chorizo and $16 a bowl for artisanal grits and $12 an ounce for sunflower micro greens while they sit in a refurbished cotton mill and sip a $9 craft brew made with local hops?  Is this where culinary nostalgia inevitably leads and leaves us?  Sweet God have mercy, I hope not.
Ask what the hog can do for you, but what can you do for the hog.

Ask what the hog can do for you, but what can you do for the hog.

I sat in that bar and drank all day on Sunday for more than one reason

by Angela Perez
I sat in that bar called Slim’s and drank all day on Sunday for a reason.
Oh, sure, I had a good time.  No doubt.  Nothing finer in this world than being surrounded by good friends who make you endlessly laugh ’til you cry.
And I have a deep appreciation for milling about dark places listening to good music amongst people I might or might not be inclined to sleep with.  Or at least touch the tip and graze the lip but not go all the way because then it’s just promiscuousness.
Ah!  But my reasons for knocking back all that Cardinal gin on the Lord’s day were deeper than just having a good time.
Lately, life has gotten too comfortable and too safe.  And I see the people around me, my age, posting on Facebook and Instagram all of these stultifyingly boring photos of children and grandchildren and spouses and snapshots of chili and bowls of soup they made.  And these folks write about how grateful they are for being secure and getting engaged and drinking hot chocolate this morning and on and on.
And all of those mundane, regular-folks’ posts make me feel like I am suffocating.  I am drowning in those posts.  And I want to flee from these people and their penchant for the opposite of pain, dangerous adventure and anguish.  Jesus Christ, this is where it’s all headed for all the average and not-so-average Joes, including myself.
These youngish- to middle-aged lives I see around me fall so neatly and predictably into that pattern of goodness and the straight and warm and fuzzy path to the grave.   And it makes me sick.  And ill.  And I want to burn it all down to the ground.   But now, as I have gotten older, I know that there is no stable but magical brilliant place of wild satisfaction and quick release behind the curtain.  Oh no.  That place beyond the beer, shitty coke, and cum-stained curtain is dark and warped and a realm where bad people go to live in misery. It’s a place from which nothing warm and fuzzy and secure can emerge.
And so I’m caught between two worlds, neither of which appeals to me.
A limbo of longing and disdain.  Of pity for the regulars and the predictable people alongside an abhorrence of and lust for the twisted.
While I ponder on that, I suppose I’ll just sip my gin and get laid and think on glorious food and boys who smell of warm gray wool and taste of peaches and cigarette smoke.  Because, really, if you just do it once and a while, it’s just a good time, right?  I’m going to say yes, because, on this particular Sunday, it was.
But if I do it again next weekend, it might not be.  As you know, you can never fully relax when you’re getting all lit up on Sunday because in the back of your mind, as you knock back that Fireball shot somebody ordered for you, you’re thinking of all that grown-up regular responsible adult shit you gotta do on Monday morning at 8 o’clock (or whatever time it is you get up), things that the damned on the other side of the curtain don’t give a fuck about.
[Editor’s note:  this story is told from the point of view of someone who is not actually Angela Perez but who thinks along similar but not exact lines.]

Throwin’ You a Hard Rock-and-Roll Bone: The Battery Electric and that Sunday at Slim’s

by Angela Perez

Last Sunday afternoon, it was all sunshine and blue skies outside.  I know this because while I was sipping cold gin at Slim’s,  I saw  golden light filtering through all the rock show flyers and band posters taped haphazardly to the grimy front window.  But, as I sat there on the cracked vinyl of that rickety barstool, I wasn’t really paying attention to the world outside.  Because something bizarre and wonderful was happening there in the dank bowels of my favorite downtown Raleigh bar.   That something was the New Jersey band, The Battery Electric.  The rock-and-roll foursome was playing an afternoon benefit show after having already played at two other Triangle music venues on Friday and Saturday.  Technically, they should have been slogging through the set, worn out from a weekend of mayhem.  But they brought a full-on, we-came-to-party vibe that had the room groovin’.   More about that later.

As the rough and rowdy motley band launched into their third hard and heavy song, my buddy standing next to me leans in and says, “What the fuck is this?  I’ve never heard anything like it.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, trying to catch the bartender’s attention for one more Cardinal gin and soda.  “Don’t you like it?”

“No, it’s not that,” he says.  “It’s just…well…I don’t know what this is.  I mean.  It’s like hard rock.  But there’s a lot of R & B and soul to it.  And yet it’s not cheesy.  It’s great!  It’s just that I can’t figure out WHAT it is.”

I’ve thought about his description since then and, after doing a bit of digging into the “Jersey Shore sound” and listening to more songs by this band, I think I know what he’s on to.  And why this band is something I’ve been looking for – for a long time.  And why you should keep an eye on them.

So, first to introduce the guys who I saw at Slim’s, and who are, I believe, taking Jersey-style raunch-and-roll to a new level.  Well, a new place at any rate.

Ron Santee, vocals

Brent Bergholm, guitar

Alex Rosen, bass guitar

Kevin Troeller,  drums


I’m not 100 percent sure what the situation with their drummer is – most of their recent press photos and online postings only show Ron, Brent, and Alex as being The Battery Electric.  What I do know is they are an Asbury Park band – part of a re-burgeoning blue-collar, hard-working pedigree that has existed from the late 60s ’til now – with waxing and waning periods throughout the decades.  The area spawned Bruce Springsteen, the Bouncing Souls, Bon Jovi, the Gaslight Anthem and so on.  There’s an endless list of bands who were born and bred here and there are a lotta ways to define the sound – but, by and large, it seems to all boil down to some rock and roll grit with a touch (or, in some cases, a lot) of soul and R & B.  How that “grit” plays out lately down the Shore is anybody’s game but let’s talk about The Battery Electric’s game.

From what I saw at Slim’s on Sunday and from some online listening this week, this band operates amidst a musical framework that stays grounded in a seamless fusion of heavy party rock (I kept thinking of KISS), old-school metal (think Black Sabbath) and primitive punk sensibilities (the Stooges if they’d been injecting Fireball shots instead of heroin).  The look, the feel, the texture of the band and its music are all solidly and overtly blue collar.  This project IS working class at its core.   Nothing revelatory here, right?  That’s stereo-fucking-typical Jersey Shore.

What’s revelatory about this band is the authenticity of this bizarre, ever-morphing fusion of metal, punk, and soul.  All too often these days, genre fusion leads to some pussy way-too-self-aware indie bullshit.  But this band isn’t just playing around with their roots (no pun intended) in some self-indulgent circle jerk – it feels like they have their hands in the dirt, digging around probing the dark around those roots, understanding the heart of the rock-and-roll universe they are drawing their life’s blood from.  That created them.  There are no oh-my-God-what-does-it-mean-to-be-blue-collar indie sensibilities muddying up the project – this music is about having a good time – it’s the quintessential rock-and-roll project – sex and drugs and liquor required.

But there’s more to this fusion than meets the eye.

The overtones, the guts of the music feel like old metal & punk sans the anger, the anguish, the politics, the dragons, the bats, the pentagram, and the witches spewing blood.  This enterprise, at its heart, is about feeling good.  When you watch The Battery Electric, you know they didn’t come to save the environment, didn’t come for dark catharsis, or to shout at the devil.  They came to party.   And even if you didn’t intend to, by God, by the end of the set you WILL end up partying with them.

Some of the songs’ lyrics and the lead singer’s antics remind of the days from my 20s when I lived with three guys in three different Raleigh bands in an old house downtown decorated mainly with rock-and-roll instruments, pedals, cheap furniture that someone’s parents gave us or that we scored from Goodwill – or, in one instance – a rug we found by the side of the road.  What tied the room in that house together?  A cheap-assed fiberboard coffee table perpetually covered in empty beer cans and bottles and overflowing ashtrays and old pizza boxes with a bong hidden underneath.  Or not hidden.  The Battery Electric’s music is THE anthem for THAT house.  For that lifestyle.

Like I said, they are constantly paying homage to the best of several worlds and there’s some real cultural work happening here inextricably bound to the Asbury Park scene.  But at the same time transcending it.  That transcendence to me comes through in the heavy metal grooves present in most songs, even in their light-hearted or soulful cover songs.  There is definitely something heavy and dark in this music that firmly keeps this band from being just a raunch-and-roll band.  It’s taking them many steps beyond the Jersey Shore and I think that solid metal heaviness combined with their authenticity and charisma will be what takes them to a national stage.

Oh, and I should mention, it seems that most of the ladies are smitten by the tall, pretty-boy looks of bass guitarist Alex.  But for my money, I think that filthy French-dandy looking fucker fronting the band is the one the ladies should be partying it down with.   And we should mention, the guitar player in the jean jacket cut is the one kicking metal ass and has great hair to boot.  But, truly, all these fellas are bringing something sexy to the table.  Because it’s real, it’s authentic, they are down to Earth and they are good at what they do.


Gold Souls: rethinking the Chapel Hill band SOON’s amalgam of hard rock sound

by Angela Perez

I drove over to Chapel Hill last night to see one of my favorite Chapel Hill bands, SOON.  I wrote about them a few weeks ago (click here for that post) after seeing them for the first time at everyone’s favorite downtown Raleigh dive bar, Slim’s.  At that time, in my gin-clouded mind, I categorized the band as sorta folk metal, smooth and lush with breaks of booming cacophony.  A lot of that impression was further tempered by listening to the single they shared on their Facebook page.

But after seeing them play a show last night in the tight dark dank cocoon of The Cave, I’ve changed my mind.

A run-down of the players includes:

Mark Connor: guitars
Stuart McLamb: guitars, vocals
Thomas Simpson: drums
Rob Walsh: bass, vocals

These guys make their own signs and t-shirts.  The DIY work ethic is alive and well in Chapel Hill.  Who doesn't dig that?

These guys make their own signs and t-shirts. The DIY work ethic is alive and well in Chapel Hill. Who doesn’t dig that?

This particular show at the Cave felt less like a bar gig and more like sitting in on a practice session in Rob’s living room while everybody smokes a bowl, swills beer and works through a practice set.  It was chill and comfortable and you could tell that this bar is where these fellas hang their hats regularly.

As to the music, it’s still heavy and it’s hard.  But it ain’t quite metal like I thought it was.  It’s some kinda hard rock.  It’s complicated.

In a haphazard way, it channels the motley scrape and grind of those Sub Pop-label bands getting signed in the 80s and early 90s like Tad, Green River and Mudhoney – before the grunge moniker was finally plastered over a generation of bands and it all got a little bit cleaned up for church.  The motley-ness of the music jibes with the look of the band, because this is an unkempt bunch of handsome lads with no discernible adherence to a particular fashion or style.  These fellas rolled outta bed and put on whatever was sorta clean and showed up for work.  And that’s what I like about them – they aren’t trying to fit the part of some genre, they aren’t playing a heavy metal/hard rock part.  They’re just jamming hard and in a bizarre fashion that rubs like half used-up sandpaper on stained cheap silk.

The harmonies generated amongst this crew remind me of the very earliest days of Jane’s Addiction – a tin-like rough exoticness as Mark, Stuart, and Robert sing in unison, pounding their instruments, yelling in restlessness, with Rob adding a Lemmy-like growl that reminds you that this is an amalgamation of a lot of shit.  Despite all of these comparisons I am making, SOON is something uniquely its own, nothing feels derivative.  But you can indeed feel the pedigree in it all.

The drummer pounds, pounds, pounds the shit out of his drums.  You watch with bated breath, waiting for his sticks to break in half, or at least fly out of his hands and impale some cute bouncing pixie girl through her pretty blue eye (these days, soft little pixie girls ironically wearing cut-off Misfits t-shirts and sporting fringed bohemian bags are just as common at hard rock/metal shows as hard-smokin’, heavy black eye-liner, fuck-you-up-with-her-jack-boot biker chicks.  When these pixie chicks start doing shitty cocaine off the backs of toilets while listening to Kyuss, I MIGHT start taking them seriously).

Along with the pre-grunge grunginess of the music, I distinctly got the lazy, dark dissonance of some of Pavement’s most grinding songs (oh wait, all of Pavement’s songs were grinding – grinding indie rock into a wet pulp and refashioning it into something caustically catchy, but only to misanthropes).  This is all to say, there’s a similar indie rock vein running through SOON.  Stuart McLamb can do the metal yowls but they are kept in check by a Stephen Malkmus-like arrogance peppered with self-loathing that somehow inflects his vocals.   I dig it.

And then there are the flashes of this century’s Oregon-brand of atmospheric, washy folksy metal like Yob and Agalloch.  Like those guys, SOON’s music is powerful in its metal reverie but all that other grungy, indy stuff never lets the music realize itself as particularly metal.   And I like that.  For me, as a fan of the earliest Sub Pop stuff, a major fan of Pavement, and a budding fan of Oregon-style atmospheric hard stuff, these guys hit all of my hot buttons.  This band is like that guy who you didn’t expect to fall for because he doesn’t fit in any of the categories on your wish list and he doesn’t look like you’d planned for your new lover to look, but somehow, despite upsetting all of your expectations as to what turns you on, this guy does it for you in a way no one else does.  So you date him and you’re happy.   That’s SOON for me.

I don’t know what the term is for the music that SOON is playing or what it ought to be – but I ain’t seen anything around like it and I look forward to our relationship.  I hope we never break up.  But I never do stay in relationships for very long.  And it’s never me, it’s always them.

P.S. You might wonder, after reading my first article about the band, how can I find so many varying elements – that reflection compared to this one doesn’t read exactly the same.  But that’s the wonder of this band – they surprise me each time.  It’s never quite the same.  Possibly depending on how high one or all of them are, but who cares?  That kind of wondering inflicts a need, a jarring desire.  Oh yeah.

Stuart McLamb can do the metal yowls but they are kept in check by a Stephen Malkmus-like arrogance peppered with self-loathing that somehow inflects his vocals.

Stuart McLamb can do the metal yowls but they are kept in check by a Stephen Malkmus-like arrogance peppered with self-loathing that somehow inflects his vocals.


One weekend in downtown Raleigh in a nutshell

A friend of mine who lives in Washington DC asked me if I missed living in DC.

“I do indeed,” replied I.  “The restaurants and the art museums.  You.  And good bakeries.”

“I always wondered this,” he said.  “Why do you love Raleigh so much?” he asked.  “I knew even when you lived here how much you loved it.  It was the WAY you would talk about it.”

I’ve thought about his words quite a bit since yesterday.  And I thought of a way to describe how I enjoy my time here.  It’s not like this all of the time, but can be:

That Saturday evening, we went around downtown Raleigh in such company.  We stopped in at the bar at Garland and had mezcal and crispy garlicky bites of fried chicken; we grounded at Capital Club 16 over fat glistening pork sausages and gin and whiskey; we dined on tender cheap ribeyes at The Mecca washed down with cold beer; we hit our worst break at Slim’s Downtown, which, later the next morning, struggling in our cups, we deemed the “Graveyard” because we knew the bartenders too well; there we had a run-in with a bizarre, young girl who gave off a black energy that threatened our liquored-up gaiety, but we moved quickly away from her lifeless end of the bar.  I remember it as though it was yesterday.  We threw our cigarettes away so as not to be tempted to stand outside in the cold, lest we miss any good songs on the jukebox.  The men lost their heads in lust and passion. I was being hit on by a man with hair gel and no beard but was fished out by friends and saved through a round of Fireball shots.  Now, at this age, I don’t worry about falling down a hatchway and being washed away down river a corpse.  For I can afford an Uber towncar and a fancy hotel room at the Marriott if need be.


Why the Raleigh band Maldora is my new favorite band

by Angela Perez

Last Friday night, in downtown Raleigh, NC, instead of going to see the Cover Up at King’s Barcade, I went to Slim’s to see the Americana band Maldora, a Raleigh band that’s a favorite among seasoned musicians.  Well, Americana is how the band is often labeled.  But that’s not really what’s happening there.  In fact, there’s a punk dissonance hammering away in every chord that threatens the music’s very being.  That punk irreverence seethes throughout the set and actively prevents this music from being true Americana or Southern roots rock.  And yet, initially, when the band starts to play, you might think you are indeed at a good ole’ roots rock show.

But, by God, you ain’t.
If I have seen Maldora ever play before, I don’t recall it, and, as the line-up stands and performs now, I know I would remember it.  I’m going to go ahead and say this band is my favorite band in Raleigh, knocking Demon Eye out of the top spot (though I still love Demon Eye).
To pull off a punk dissonance while also displaying roots rock sensibilities can only be managed by some very seasoned and wise musicians – which this band possesses, all of them well-known and highly respected in the Raleigh music scene:  J Chris Smith, Vox & guitar; Marc Smith (no relation), Vox & guitar; Lutie Cain, bass & vocals; Jesse Huebner, drums.
The push and pull of this music – destroying harmony while at the same time layering it on – creates an inherent tension that cannot be ignored and is, well, fucking tantalizing.   I was drawn in, spellbound by the fact I was witnessing the very magic of music as a true expression of feeling, of the human condition.  These guys, as they play, are creating an altogether revolutionary force through the unconscious collision of two music genres.  The music feels like it might fly apart at the seams – we are teased with the possibility.  But it’s doesn’t.  It’s not going to.  Because it’s grounded in that good ole’ rock and roll I was talking about.  I was stopped in my tracks by it that night in Slim’s.  I had to put down my glass of gin and stop flirting with Larry Burlison and Molly Flynn and pay attention.  Oh, I see a lot of good bands. But rarely, VERY rarely do I see bands that make me wonder aloud, “What the fuck is happening to me right now?”
A lot of that impact also has to do with our J Chris Smith’s voice.  To me, it’s what holds the whole enterprise together and directs it, perfects it.   Lutie and Marc also sing a couple of songs, but that’s just gravy on the fried chicken.  There is a melancholy overtone in Chris’ voice.   And there’s a pure Southern twang to it, and when he sings, it’s like you just walked into the middle of a monologue in a modern Southern novel, full of all that deliciously languid pathos and steamy introspection.   When Chris sings, I don’t even know what the words are.  It just FEELS like he is privately grappling with his own conflicts and demons and I’m peeking in.  But his language is universal and he, very unself-consciously, notices you watching and says, “Aw, come on in Angela and think on your part of the story.  We’ve all got demons to manage.”  So, I did.  I joined him.   At least, that’s what it felt like.  His voice is a kind of catharsis for me personally.  Who do you know who can sing like that?  Well, the greats do it.  That’s why they are great.
Despite the down-deep conflict of the music (inherent to any great art), the night never got dark or depressing.  Oh no.  Because while Chris and company present the whole range of human experience in every song, they also resolve it simultaneously through pure Southern raunch.  That’s right.  Raunch.  The music made me feel like I was carousing with abandon in a seedy saloon (which, I suppose I was – I was in Slim’s, after all).  So, ultimately, when you see Maldora, you have a good and dirty fucking time, not realizing until hours later, after you get home and crawl into bed, that you’ve been gently jerked from despair to elation in ways you never, ever dreamed possible.